by John M. Borack
The New Trocaderos
"Thrills & Chills"
(Uncle Mike's RnR)
The New Trocaderos are back with a blast of punk, pop, and in-your-face rock 'n' roll that recalls musical heroes such as the Stones, Dave Edmunds and Rockpile, the Real Kids, Eddie and the Hot Rods, and the Searchers. The band is fronted by Brad Marino and Geoff Palmer (from like-minded rockers The Connection), as well as primo power pop dude Kurt Baker; all three of ‘em have had a bundle of “Coolest Songs in the World This Week” on Little Steven’s Underground Garage and all three of ‘em sing lead here.. On Thrills & Chills, the tunes are all written or co-written by LA-based attorney (!) Michael Chaney, and a handful feature background and harmony vocal support from Kim Shattuck of the Muffs, Palmyra Delran, and Line Cecilie Dahlmann from garage-popsters The Dahlmanns.
As you can no doubt guess by the influences listed above, this is no frills, good time, party-hard rock and roll. The leadoff track sounds like a perfect marriage of Graham Parker’s “Crawling From the Wreckage” and The Connection’s own, similarly-themed “Crawling From a Wreckage of a Saturday Night.” After that impressive beginning, it’s off to the races with a little Stonesy raunch (“I’m So Bad”), some 12-string, Merseybeat-tinged jangle pop (the perfectly catchy “Crazy Little Fool” and “Like an Angel,” both sweetened by Shattuck’s vocal contributions), a nasty little rocker (“By the Balls” – it’s alcohol that’s got him, not a girl), some horn-fueled sounds (the opening of “Hey Big Boy” sounds like a not-too-distant relative to CCR’s “Travelin’ Band”), a little garage rock (“Midnight Creep” features some nicely placed organ amongst the stinging guitars) and a bit of bluesy goodness to close things out (“Business to Tend To”). Plus, you gotta love a band that sings, “You’re getting calls from a whole lot of men/and one of them’s older than Roger McGuinn,” as Kurt Baker intones on the neat doo-wop pastiche, “Love Anymore.”
Cool songs galore with the melodies out in full force, guitars, guitars and more guitars, and just the right balance of swagger and sweetness all add up to your new favorite band. Believe it. (Available on CD on the Uncle Mike's RnR label, as well as digitally. Vinyl (co-released by Ghost Highway Records and KOTJ) will be available in the US in early November as a limited edition import.
Visit thenewtrocaderos.bandcamp.com/ for more info.)
"Play This Intimately (As If Among Friends)"
With Play This Intimately (As If Among Friends), their first album of all-new material since 2011, Irish pop monsters Pugwash hit it out of the park in grand style with a dozen hook-happy songs that are certain to charm any and all who lend an ear or two. The supremely talented quartet, led by singer/songwriter Thomas Walsh, assimilate and intermingle the best influences from the ‘60s through the ‘80s – think Beatles, Beach Boys, Electric Light Orchestra and XTC – and come up with a sound that is uniquely their own.
The opening track, the big-beat “Kicking and Screaming,” is the hardest rocking thing here, with an insidiously catchy main riff that brings to mind the Monkees’ “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” and features guitarist Tosh Flood adding a sweet slide guitar part and a compact but powerful little solo towards the end of the tune. (Flood is the band’s not-so-secret weapon, as his 6 and 12-string guitars add splashes of sonic color to nearly every tune on Play This Intimately.)
Elsewhere, “Lucky in Every Way” is a mid-tempo winner that grabs with a hummable melody and plush backing vocals, while Pugwash’s XTC influence is brought to the forefront on the pastoral “Feed His Heart With Coal.” “Clouds” is a perfect recreation of the late ‘60s “California sound,” a tasty brew of Jimmy Webb, Burt Bacharach and sunshine pop, and the stirring, hypnotic “The Fool I Had Become” sounds like it could have been a hit single for ELO in 1976 or for Pugwash in 2015, which is to say it’s a timeless-sounding number with a yearning feel similar to ELO's classic "Telephone Line."
The jaunty “You Could Always Cry” and the instantly memorable “Hung Myself Out to Dry” (with its brief little vocal nod to ELO) are two more standouts, and “Silly Love” sports slightly dark-sounding verses (anchored by the ace rhythm section of bassist Shaun McGee and drummer Joe Fitzgerald) that give way to a cheery chorus. Oh, and the winsome, soft poppin’ “Oh Happy Days” features backing vocals by none other than Ray Davies and Andy Partridge, as well as a breathtaking vocal arrangement.
By now, it’s no doubt become clear that we’re talking about one hell of an achievement here. Thomas Walsh’s songwriting is peerless, his voice is one of the best and most versatile on the scene today, the band is imaginative and beyond solid, and Play This Intimately (As If Among Friends) is simply marvelous from top to bottom and one of the musical highlights of 2015.